tv The Last Word MSNBC October 21, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EDT
>> first ronald reagan tries to kill gadhafi, then george bush makes peace with him, then obama kills him. good figure. go figure. >> wow. huh. >> president obama is about to make a statement. >> dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted. >> the man president reagan dubbed the mad dog of the middle east. >> this mad dog of the middle east. >> this is one tough, not-so-nice guy. >> murdered americans and others in a tragedy in lockerbie. >> it is a big moment for the president. >> i think there is a big sigh of relief. >> gadhafi one way or the other is gone. >> rebels reportedly found gadhafi in a hole.
>> the president was criticized. >> he took too long to do it and didn't do enough of it. >> this was a direct actionly the american military. >> america spent $2 billion total. >> we achieved our objectives. >> didn't lose a sixth life. >> i would not have intervened. >> he put us in libya. >> i would not have used american and european forces. >> no doubt another significant win in president obama's foreign policy column. >> he gets to say, i told you so. >> pictures of elated crowds all day. >> there is joy and relief. >> the u.s. right now is very popular in libya. >> can you hear children cheering, god is great. >> now he has us engaged in yet another third middle eastern war. >> i would not have intervened. >> the president of uzbekistan --
>> president obama congratulated the libyan people today after moammar gadhafi, libya's dictator for 42 years was killed and rebel fighters captured the regime's final strong hold, gadhafi's hometown of sirte. this afternoon the president stood in the rose garden on the heels of yet another foreign policy success and explained how he did it. >> faced with the potential of mass atrocities, and a call for help from the libyan people, the united states and our friends and allies stopped gadhafi's forces in their tracks. a coalition that included the united states, nato and arab nations persevered through the summer to protect libyan civilians. and meanwhile, the courageous libyan people fought for their own future and broke the back of the regime. for nearly eight months, many americans have provided extraordinary service and
support of our efforts to protect the libyan people and to provide them with a clans to determine their own destiny. our skilled diplomats helped lead an unpress denned global response. our brave pilots have flown in libyan skies. our sailors have provided support off libya's shores. and our leadership at nato helped guide our coalition. without putting a sixth u.s. servicemember on the ground, we achieved our objectives. and our nato mission will soon come to an end. >> it took less than eight months to overthrow a 42-year dictator who sponsored the killing of american civilians in a terror attack. it cost $1 billion, that is billion with a b, not a single american life was lost in the battle. meanwhile, desupposing saddam hussein continues to cost the united states over 1 trillion, trillion with a t, and more than
4,000 american lives and we are still there. but don't expect the republicans to give this president any credit. presidential front-runner mitt romney ducked the question on the campaign trail in iowa this morning. >> it's about time, gadhafi, a terrible tyrant that killed his own people, and murdered americans and others in the tragedy in lockerbie. the world is a better place with gadhafi gone. >> just a short time ago, romney did better the second time around when he was asked again. >> romney add lot more to say about the president's handling of libya on a conservative radio show in march.
>> he is tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced. he calls the removal of moammar gadhafi but then conditions or action on the directions we get from the arab league and united nations, america has been feared sometimes, has been respected. but today america is seen as being weak. we are following the french into libya. >> republicans senator marco rubio of florida is willing to give credit to the french. back in june, senator rubio didn't think the europeans were up to the task. >> only when the gadhafi mercenaries were on the outskirts of benghazi, threatening civilians, that the president finally agreed to participate. even that was botched. first seeding most of the operation it nato allies and god bless them for trying, but they do not have the military capability to finish the job.
>> but reacting to gadhafi's death on fox news this morning, rubio was certain, certain, that it was europeans who finished the job. >> i'm glad it's all working out. ultimately this is about the freedom of the libyan people. but let's give credit where the credit is due. it is the french and british that led the strike and probably led to the strike of gadhafi's capture or to his death. >> such amateur guess work could not survive this fast fast-moving news day. nbc news learned it was a u.s. predator drone that fired on the 15-vehicle convoy. gadhafi escaped the attacked fleet and fled to a drain pipe where he was captured by rebel forces. it is not clear if he died from wounds at the airstrike or at the hands of his libyan captors. joining me now, andrea mitchell, and most of msnbc's "andrea mitchell reports", steve
clemmons, washington editor at large for the atlantic. and eugene robinson, columnist for the washington post and an msnbc political analyst. thank you all for joining me tonight. andrea, this is scored by any measure as a victory for president obama's strategy in libya. he went out on a limb here at the start and took the position that they were going to have to move in libya. we have now a lot of republican videotape with a lot of embarrassing statements that do not square with where this situation is today. how do you grade the president's handling of this from start to today? >> well, i think that he has to be given good marks for this. he was criticized at first for not being in enough for so-called leading from behind, for letting british and french take the lead. but i think he properly assessed with this w a spread so thinly into two fighting wars already that to join the third and to
take a leading role, and we did take an important role in the initial airstrikes, but then we began focusing more on refueling intelligence and predators strikes. which turned out to be absolutely critical as the civil war reached this point of hunting down moammar gadhafi. i think the roughs have a lot of questions that still need to be addressed on the question of foreign policy and they have not really been questioned very intensively on that subject in the debate just the other night they were talking about getting rid of foreign aid which is a small percentage of the budget as you know, lawrence, and getting out of the u.n. this was a u.n. nato mission. and this is exactly the kind of coalition force that many people have been arguing we should be engaged in. in this case, by any measure at work, the question now is what do the libyans do next in the role we play. >> this is what the president said in his first address on march 29 after ordering airstrikes.
>> to be blunt, we went down that road in iraq. >> regime change there took eight years, thousands of americans and iraqi lives and nearly a trillion dollars. that is not something we can afford to repeat in libya. >> bobby goesh, do we see in libya lessons learned from iraq. >> yes. i think the biggest lesson learned is you have to let people do it by themselves. take a back seat, give them rushl help as nato bombing operation provided, but let the people do it themselves. whether or not the people in iraq were in a position to do that against saddam hussein is a different story. but clearly, this had to be from the beginning something that the libyan people did themselves. in that way it is similar to what happened in 2001. this is like the northern both on the ground and in the air -- >> in afghanistan, although we ins gated the action, the action
feat or boots, they weren't even boots on the ground, were native. >> yes. the northern alliance. a constellation of different tribes that had been fight against the taliban for a long time. local networks, local families. they were the sharp end of the operation. >> let's listen to what president obama said today about american leadership in this mission in libya. >> we see the strength of american leadership across the world. we have taken out al qaeda leaders and put them on the path to defeat. we are winding down the war in iraq and with friend and allies, we demonstrated what collective action can achieve in the 21st century. >> steve clemens, the president is trying to set in the chapters of history that we are seeing unfolding in the middle east, where does this fit in the flow
of -- from say the invasion of iraq all the way through the arab spring? >> well, we have seen president obama hatch a new kind of american involvement. this is a -- people like me that were concerned that we didn't know how to have this kind of war, that pentagon would see a slippery slope and would just, you know, simply get way overengaged and the president was able to hold back, give as bobby ghosh just said, give the rebels an opportunity to win or lose. this wasn't a guaranteed outcome. i think this is a huge success for president obama and new model different from iraq, different from afghanistan and builds upon a much more organic and authentic revolution. the president is president obama and his team would like it take a lot of credit for it. but subtlety of this doesn't allow them to. i just walked by the white house. in contrast it another great villain who president obama killed, osama bin laden, there is no one there paying tribute or celebrating.
this wasn't our villain in libya. it was the people's villain, those in tripoli. i have no doubt that barack obama will have a square in tripoli named barack obama plaza. but that won't be here. and i think the president and his team are wondering why they aren't getting more support. but this is their fight and that is the mastery and magic i think of what president obama hatched in this. >> so eugene robinson, this was tactic ly tactically in n some wayes a victory for subtlety. a victory for restraint. for military restraint. a way to go in there big. the president decided not to go in there big. they did not put troops on the ground. there is a long list of things he did not do and in the end, he got list way. >> he did get his way. and in the beginning, remember we first went in to protect libyanian civilians. but the logic from the beginning is that gadhafi had to go. and i think the innovation here
is that the president and his military team found a way to use the predator drones to use our intelligence assets to use that sort of, if it's not soft power but not boots on the ground, but to use that power and toward the end of regime change. which we kind of denied at first but that was the only way we were going to protect civilian says getting rid of gadhafi. >> andrea mitchell, american presidents are frequently accused of going into military situations or going into war without saying fully what they really intend to do or why they are really going. has gene just touched on the possible version after liberal president going to war, not really turning over all of his cards when he is doing it? >> i do think that there is clear ambiguity, deliberate ambiguity, of the whole motion of letting gadhafi out, letting him become an exile. i think everyone knew, especially with the role of the
intelligence community and predators, that we were targeting gadhafi. and the fact that he was apparently executed without any due process today, may have some ramifications, both domestically in libya and in the arab world. but no tears were shed for him in washington or langley. but clearly, this was a kill option and they were out to get him. >> we're going to be back with more on gadhafi and his tortured history with american presidents, the republican president who wanted to kill him, and the republican president then made peace with him. when hillary clinton first read reports about gadhafi on her blackberry. >> wow. unconfirmed, yeah. no. unconfirmed reports about gadhafi being captured.
unconfirmed. yeah. we've add bunch of those before. we've had, you know, had him captured a couple of times i want healthy skin for life. [ female announcer ] improve the health of your skin with aveeno daily moisturizing lotion. the natural oatmeal formula improves skin's health in one day, with significant improvement in 2 weeks. i found a moisturizer for life. [ female announcer ] only from aveeno. mary? what are you doing here? it's megan. i'm getting new insurance. marjorie, you've had a policy with us for three years. it's been five years. five years. well, progressive gives megan discounts that you guys didn't. paperless, safe driver, and i get great service. meredith, what's shakin', bacon? they'll figure it out. getting you the discounts you deserve. now, that's progressive. call or click today. dr. scholl's custom fit orthotic center
coming up, another day, another flip-flop by mitt romney in no, herman cain. herman cain had a tough 24 hours trying to figure out the official position on abortion and even though he is a presidential candidate, herman cain hasn't given up his day job. how herman cain is making a living. we will talk about that later. next, though, why the president, president obama, killed gadhafi aefr george w. bush made peace with him. that's with our panel, next.
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and guide to understanding medicare, i can keep my own doctor and choose my own hospital. and i don't need a referral to see a specialist. as with all medicare supplement plans, and help pay for what medicare doesn't. call this toll-free number now... because of american leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. last month, the heard of libya, voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. colonel gadhafi correctly judged that his kun country would be better off and far more secure, without weapons of mass murder. nine months of intense negotiations involving the
united states and great britain succeeded with libya while 12 years of diplomacy with iraq did not. and one reason is clear. for diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible. and no one can now doubt the word of america. [ applause ] >> that was president bush in his 2004 state of the union address. joining me now, returning to the panel, andrea mitchell, steve clemons, bobby ghosh and eugene robinson. >> they took him off the list once he paid the families of the victims from the pan am. it was an full scale weapons program but the parts of the weapons pro program.hdjt
then condoleezza rice went in 2008, she was the first to go in many, many decades and hillary clinton went back it tripoli two days ago, again the first secretary of state since then. the highest ranking official since the civil war. what happened between 2008 when we were normalizing relation answers even 2009, barack obama was shaking hands at the u.n. with moammar gadhafi. what happened was the arab spring. the uprising where the president and his foreign policy advisors felt that they today side with the libyan people and there was very long leadership from britain and france push in that direc. >> bobby, how was the united states been seen in its shifting positions, in particular just using libya as an example. it would be, it seems to me, not clear to people in the region
why the united states shifts its positions this way. >> there is off then the accusation that the u.s. went along on this spot with libya but not so much in bahrain where people rows up against their rulers, the king and united states did essentially nothing. but it is important to remember that this new doctrine, if you like, that obama was able to unleash in libya was based on four fundamental things. the libyan people wanted it. the arab lead wanted foreign intervention. there were allies waiting to go along and the united nations signed off on it. those four things almost never happen simultaneously in any other circumstance. so the president was able to craft this policy because he had all of that going for him. now people on the ground in the middle east don't always see it that way so you are always going to get people saying, why aren't we bombing? why isn't the united states. why isn't nato bombing syria? where, the arab league isn't calling for it. syrians are not calling for it and clearly there is not united nations calling for it. the formula is very specific. it worked for libya.
it may not necessarily work in other places. >> eugene robinson pb andrew sullivan wrote on his blog today, to rid the world of osama bin laden, and moammar gadhafi within six months, if obama were a republican he would be on mt. rushmore by now. there is something to that, isn't there? >> well, there is. of course he won't get that kind of credit. you saw mitt romney's reaction with this, well, i suppose he gets some credit. and you have heard nothing essentially from other canned dates. nonetheless, president obama has a record of foreign policy success that he will be able to take on the campaign trail within this year and not a lot of voters perhaps will make their decision based on foreign policy. but some will and so if you've got a horn to toot, you should toot it.
>> steve clemons, where do we go from here in libya? >> well, i think that we need it encourage as best we can the national transition council to get its act together, to figure out who the heroes of the revolution are. there are a lot of new players that came in inside libya in the last two months that weren't part of the original benghazi coalition. they need to be built in. and we need it make sure to keep this a libyan story and not do victory lapse constantly talking about all we did. there is a very strong anti-colonial, anti-western sentiment inside libya, even with all that we did, that will continue to be politically palpable and consequential there and i think we need to be respectful of that process. they will have struggles. their problems won't be money. it will be sorting out power. we need to be respectful of that and try to guide and encourage and hook them up to as many international institutions and network as possible to try to create some peer pressure, support for what's going on inside.
>> andrea mitchell, it's always been, or maybe not always, correct us about this, how difficult is it for presidents to do victory laps on foreign policy successes and translate them into reelection successes? i'm thinking of the first president bush who had a, for him, spectacular foreign policy success in the first iraq war which went easier than anyone imagined. then he was easily in effect in the end defeated in his reelection by bill clinton. how does the president use any of this? is there a wab in your experience, for a way for a president to use this in any reelection campaign? >> it would seem that a democratic president, especially one without any military experiencing with as to prove himself on military experience and certainly barack obama has done that and done it in spectacular fashion with osama bin laden and some of the other, you know, military achievements,
military intelligence achievements. that said, americans are voting their pocket books right now. for very good reasons. they did that back in 1992 to a certain extent and certainly, the victory in the first gulf war did not help, ultimately help george bush get re-elected. and right now, more so than ever, after what we have all experienced, this is really a domestic policy economic election. i think that there has to be sort of a threshold test passed by candidates. whoever is the republican nominee and president obama. but it is not going to be the ticket to reelection for this president. it could be a disabling factor for one of the republicans, depending on who is the nominee judging from the debate so far, unless they really begin to stud study up and have a more coherent foreign policy. >> that will have to be the last word for tonight. thank you for joining me, andrea mitchell, steve clemons, bobby glosh and eugene robinson.
that's video of new york police deputy inspector anthony using pepper spray against innocent women on september 24 during occupy wall street protests. according to the website dna info.com, he now says he was stunned and shell shocked by reaction to that video. and says he feels tortured. the typical self pitying stance of brutal cops when they are caught in the act. deputy inspectors now says he didn't mean it target the two women. instead he says he was aiming at two men, two men who are not seen in any of the event and he admits that he has his phrase, bad aim.
he lost ten vacation days for violating police guidelines but says, he would do it all again. and i for one, believe him. i believe would he do it again, that is. >> coming up, the retired marine who shamed police at occupy wall street. and herman cain tries to keep talking about apples and oranges as he drowns in a sea of questions about his ridiculous 9-9-9 plan. but his very reasonable position on abortion is the biggest problem his campaign has faced yet. that's next. coffee doesn't have vitamins... unless you want it to. new splenda® essentials™ no calorie sweetener
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and your free hoveround collapsible grabber. call the number on your screen. did herman cain just end all hope of winning the iowa caucuses. on sunday, the republican front-runner lost the support of some social conservatives of wh he told nbc's david gregory this. >> i wouldn't seek a constitutional ban for same-sex marriage but i am pro traditional marriage. >> but you would let the states make up their own mind. >> they would make up their own minds, yes. >> sorry, wrong answer for republicans. last night, cain lost the
support of even more social conservatives when he said that he was personally in favor -- he was personally pro life but he would not impose that governmentally. >> i believe that life begins at conception. and abortion, under no circumstances, it comes down to, it's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision. secondly, if you look at the statistical incidence, you're not talking about that big a number. so what i'm saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that family or that mother has it make. not me as president. >> that of course, prompted iowa favorites michele bachmann and rick santorum to release statements today condemning cain's position, his liberal position on abortion. santorum's statement read in part, i find it gravely troubling that herman believes it's a life but he doesn't consider it a life worth
fighting for. his pro life position is similar to john kerry be a barack obama and many on the liberal left. it is unconscionable for herm yn to run for the nomination of the party that stands in the defense of life while showing disregard for the sanctity of life. after a day of having the official republican position on abortion explained to him, both publicly and privately by republicans and others, herman cain, of course, completely changed his position to the standard republican position on abortion. in a statement to christian broadcast news, cain said, my answer was focused on the role of the president. the president has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. as to my political policy view on abortion, i am 100% pro life, end of story. i will do everything that a president can do, consistent
with his contusional role, to advance the culture of life. joining me now, joshua zbreen who is the senior nags wall spoernt ton bloomberg business week and an article entitled "herman cain, mine, mine, mine." good to see you, josh. >> good to be with you. >> you have studied herman cain for the piece you just wrote. the news of the day is his unschooled opinion on abortion. what turned out to be the mario cuomo position, i am against it. many, many, many catholics, saying i'm totally against it, would not condone any of it. but as a man or woman of government, i will not get in the way of roe versus wade or the government agreed upon position on this. >> yeah. i think what happened, lawrence, is that we are seeing that cain isn't a schooled presidential candidate. if you follow him around on the campaign trail, as i've done a bit, he talks a lot about the
things about the federal government needs to be less involved in p.m. people's lives. i think he made a rookie mistake of a republican of trying to be philosophically consistent. when he was asked about abortion, the light went off in his head. he said federal government is bad. that what he said in the interviews. he said it emphatically. he did not recognize that republicans grant themselves an exception from that belief on the issue of abortion when they do want the federal government to step in and prevent women from having them. >> and they want to prevent certain people from getting married which he didn't seem to know on sunday. this abortion thing has always actually been kind of confusing when you try make sense of what herman cain is saying. let's listen to what he said to john stossel about this back in july. >> i'm pro life from conception yes. >> any cases where it should be legal. >> i don't think government should make that decision. >> i'm confused on your
decision. >> i'm pro life, period. >> if a woman is raped, she should not be allowed to end the praeg nancy. >> that's her choice, not government's choice. i support life from conception. >> so abortion should be legal? >> no, abortion should not be legal. >> i believe in the sanctity of life. >> i'm not understanding. >> if it's her choice, that means it's legal. >> no. i believe -- i don't believe a woman should have an abortion. does that help to clear it up? >> josh, no fox news -- fox business news network audience has ever been more confused. it was great listening to the confused applause of oh, yeah, he said the right thing. then, like, there's one person who is still confusedly clapping a the a certain point in there. that's our guy on abortion. >> yeah, i mean, i think cain holds what for ordinary people would be a perfectly logically consistent position on abortion.
he, himself, happens to be against it. as he said, emphatically and repeatedly, he doesn't think the government ought to play a role in that position. that's fine. just not in a republican nomination. especially not in states like iowa where there a strong social conservative population that's probably going to determine who wins and who loses then. >> josh, having studied him on the campaign, you have spoken to him. what is your verdict on the most important question about herman cain? he is really running for president? >> i don't think it's clear that he is. i mean, cn is an incredibly fun charismatic guy. we have seen this in the debates. he is born salesman. he pitched the 9-9-9 plan which got more attention than any other republican policy from any of the top tier candidates. and i think what that is a reflection of, and this is what i read about in the new issue of business week is that cn spent the last decade and a half as a motivational speaker and book author.
he was the godfather ceo on the board of kansas city federal reserve. that tends to be what people get about his boyo. if you want to understand who he is and what he is doing, you look at what he has dunt last 15 years. put out six books on leadership. giving high energy speeches to corporate executives and that's basically what he is doing on the campaign trail. >> he is still making money as a paid motivational speaker. you found in your piece? >> he is. he told me earlier, first bloomberg news broeblg broke the story earlier this week that cain is using campaign funds to buy copies of his own book. he told me earlier that he is still giving paid speech eats $25,000 a pop to corporations. >> he is absolutely right. he should not give up the day job. joshua green, senior national correspondent for bloomberg business week. thank you for joining me tonight. >> great to be with you lauer snensz coming up, joe biden teaches a math class to republicans and dars them to continue to protect millionaires at the expense of teachers,
last saturday during occupy wall street's movement call for a day of governmental protest, protesters and police violently squared off. shamar thomas who served two tours in iraq and from family who served in the united states military since world war ii could not silently stand by and watch this happen. >> leave these people alone. they're u.s. citizens. u.s. citizens. u.s. citizens. u.s. it does not make you tough to do this to them. it doesn't. stop hurting these people, man. why y'all got to do this to our people. i've been to iraq for 14 months for my people. they don't have guns.
they don't have guns. they don't. why are you hurting these people? it doesn't make any sense. it doesn't make any sense. how do you sleep at night? there is no honor in this. there is no honor in this. i am from new york city and these cops are hurting people that i fought to protect. there's no reason for this. there's no -- there's no honor in hurting unarmed civilians and i won't let it happen. have a good night. >> joining me now is former marine corps sergeant shamar thomas who served two tours in iraq and took part in the second battle of fallujah. sir, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you, sir. i appreciate it. >> it is my honor to have you here. i hear you in that video use the would honor, over and over. that's a marine word. >> it is, honor were courage be a commit many. >> when you are watching these police, and it is not all police or even mostly police. but there are police officers at the demonstrationes who you can
see are very clearly crossing a line from serving and protecting all of the people in new york, to make something decisions that do not live up to what you would consider the basic honor of a new york city police officer. >> yes, sir. well basically, they have a thing why wr they say courtesy and professionalism. we asthma reasons consider ourselves professional as well. being in combat operations and having, you know, face riots, rioters throwing rocks and not assaulting a crowd physically and then to come home to new york city where the cops aren't under the same stress, i couldn't fathom it. >> you guys in iraq today work under tre mennous restraint. you don't know who the enemy is or isn't at any time. if you act incorrectly to people who are not the enemy, you hell to pay. then you watch these guys on new york city streets.
no one there facing -- no one they're facing is armed. did you see anyone -- >> nobody out there was -- you know, presenting any kind of danger to the nypd. you know, i will say that i do -- i want people to support the occupation in their local states and i want them to understand that you know, police brutality is not -- will not be tolerated. and i need the veteran community to support me in that. you know, because we can be the change, you know, that this country needs. they say that america is the greatest country bb, but we need to live up to that title. i think everybody needs a higher quality of life. we all should be living a little bit better than we are now. >> i wrote a book about police brutality. i have been watching this. when i was watching you in the video, i was watching that the police were listening. which is something that they rarely do in those circumstances. i don't know who else could have
got them to listen. i also can see that under no circumstances, were they going to make a move on you. they made a decision about you, we're not touching him. could you feel that? >> yes, sir. i definitely felt it. i think it was a good decision. i don't think it would have ended that well. you know, i'm a real united states marine. i live to the core. i have no fear. you know what i mean. i have the utmost respect for, you know, people that protect my community. but when you start endangering the people that i put my life on the line, my family has put their life on the line to protect, that's a big problem. it shouldn't be -- it won't be tolerated any more. >> retired marine sergeant shamar thomas. thank you. again, my honor to have you come in here. >> thank you, sir. thank you. >> you can have the last word on-line at our blog. last word.msnbc.com. "the rachel maddow show" is up next.